Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Samrudhi: telugu vaari bhojanam

Have had so many food experiences in Hyderabad, good, bad and indifferent. I don't eat out often but when I do, I wish to eat healthy. And if the kitchen can dole out food that is as close to home-cooked as possible and relatively oil-free, that's a bonus. Tall order? Perhaps, but then why should eating out mean unhealthy eating?
We have, unfortunately, very few restaurants serve clients as they would want their family to eat. Or are passionate about serving food. I would now like to name Samrudhi along with Tabula Rasa, Kathmandu Momos and Mama Mia for whom serving good food is the driving motto of the business.
I tasted the vegetarian thali at Samrudhi last week. It had rice, pulihara, two dry curries, third curry with gravy, pickle, sambar, rasam, perugu mirapakayi, gongura pachadi, podi, pappu.
The cabbage fry, made simply by adding coconut was very tasty...better than home-cooked! Bangaladumpa vepudu was crisply fried. The third was cauliflower curry made in light gravy-style. The sambar was nicely balanced with pulses, spices and veggies.
All food is slightly spicy as Telugu food is meant to be. Everything  cooked to perfection ...neither under-cooked nor overcooked. It was so relieving to have Telugu food in a Telugu restaurant and have none of those masala gravy type of dishes. Even the rice served consisted of perfect long grains. I, who am a small eater, had three servings of it! I was amazed when I heard the process that went into selecting this particular grain. In keeping with the Telugu cuisine, the lunch ended with two sweets, the madatha kaja and semiya payasam. The madatha kaja was crisp but what stole the show was the semiya payasam. Not too sweet, not watery, nor too rich with badams/pistas, had good amount of milk, the semiya not swollen due to over cooking. Just perfect! For me, this is a true Telugu home-cooked meal experience with all this fare served with dollops of ghee.
What I liked about the waiters was when I said, 'koncham', they understood and served only koncham instead of dumping loads of rice onto the plate and eventually have it wasted.

My experience is based on this thali offering before the restaurant was thrown open and therefore to be considered as representative of the veg thali. Apart from the marvelous quality of food offered, other things may slightly differ. One, I am told that rotis were also being considered to be a part of the thali (and hence the cauliflower gravy curry). Second, the quantities were a bit too much. They can halve the offerings in the seven bowls.
What was missing was a 'roti pachadi' meaning some vegetable that is ground and made pachadi of, like beerakayi, kobbarikayi, tomato etc.
Also because the cuisine is Andhra/Telugu, some Telugu flavor in the decor, perhaps. Though the interiors are well done, they seem to lack a personality. But then I am nitpicking a new entry in the market... The name of the restaurant, Samrudhi, and the way the logo is designed, do reflect what to look for in their food. Happened to step into the kitchen, that too just AFTER the food was cooked and served, and found it so clean!
It may have just started but surely has set itself on the right path with a passionate restaurateur.  How do I know with a single experience? I know because I happened to be the last one to leave and was shown a sample of food which he refused to serve only because he wasn't satisfied with its taste. It was something as trivial as a papad... but then that's dedication!

Monday, January 20, 2014


Perhaps a bit too late to write a review about a movie released a week ago. But I had to.
Quality of Telugu movies has been so rapidly disintegrating that I was at the point of giving up on them. 'Nayak' was the last straw. A couple of movies before that, in which Mahesh babu acted, were also unabashedly brainless mass entertainers. Creativity has gone for a toss. All that producers are interested in, is whether they get profits.
In such scenario, Nenokkadine comes as a breather.What inspired me to watch the movie? One, I heard that it was different. Yeah, 'different' has also come to mean same old wine in new bottles. So I waited, watched and read reviews which said that it was a psycho-thriller. The fact that Brahmanandam was missing gave me a good reason to watch the movie.
Ok now for the movie itself. It is a never-before attempted venture by Mahesh babu who had comfortably slid into action movies after his 'Pokiri' was declared a huge hit. This movie is about how psychology  plays in one's life, blurring the line between reality and imagination. Mahesh babu grows up holding a revenge against three people who murder his parents right in front of his eyes. He is haunted by those memories and keeps planning their murder. The story keeps alternating between reality and imagination till all the three villains are killed. The message that a closure is needed to come to terms with life is sent across.There is a plot and it is good. Mahesh babu, as usual, gives a credible performance, handling action, emotion and romance with ease, added to which are his superb dancing skills.
Ok, now for the loopholes. While the plot was great, the director couldn't resist an item song, some humor (in the garb of the taxi driver), song and dance with the heroine. If the movie is for the intellectual audience, they don't need all these masala factors which distract them from the story. Sprucing these unnecessary details would have kept the script on leash. The heroine's role was not necessary at all. If she was there to act as an emotional anchor, she should have downplayed her role to act more sober and strong instead of breaking into sensual dances at the drop of a hat. Not to speak of her looks! Tall and broad-built, she doesn't really charm you. Also not much logic is involved in having a sardar taxi driver speak Telugu in London, either. How romance blossoms suddenly between the lead pair is also puzzling.
The movie may not come across as one of greatest must-watch ones but somewhere it rekindles a hope that there is creativity left in Telugu movies. Thanks for drawing me back to the theater.